Updated: Aug 1, 2020
When I graduated college, I, thankfully, was not one of the millions entering the workforce with student loan debt. That was a huge benefit to me as a young adult, as I wrote about previously. But what I wish I had known more about was the importance of having an emergency fund and starting retirement savings.
I don’t know how much cushion I kept in my checking account in those days, but it was probably only a few hundred dollars. I never took a personal finance course, and I hadn’t thought about having $1,000 on hand for emergencies. Having that in place would have helped keep my monthly budget more predictable, and enabled me to make a better plan for my income.
My first job after college was working as a contract music therapist. It was my degree field, and I was thrilled to find a job immediately after my internship that did not involve starting my own business. However, as a contract worker and not an employee, I did not receive a traditional benefits package including insurance and retirement savings. My paychecks covered my living expenses and health, dental, auto, and renter’s insurance, but I didn’t seek any guidance about opening a retirement account. I was ignorant of the compounding interest effect which would have surely motivated me to begin saving immediately, even if it was a small amount.
After working in that position for 18 months, I was offered the opportunity to work with my friends who had started a non-profit I cared deeply about. As I made that transition, I was still only concerned with daily living expenses and neglected retirement savings. I imagine it’s probably a pretty common occurrence in 20-somethings who don’t have traditional jobs with pre-made benefits packages. I worked there for six years and absolutely wouldn’t trade the experience, but I would have managed my finances with more thoughtfulness toward retirement if I’d known better.
If you have a new college grad in your life, gifting them our financial coaching package could be the gift that keeps on giving even through their retirement years!